Michelle Menting is originally from the upper Great Lakes region where she grew up the youngest of 12 siblings in a small cabin in the north woods. She now lives in midcoast Maine.

I love the sweet humor and pathos of this poem. What messages does a 10-year-old scratch into the snow on a frozen lake? And why does she make them? Who are they for? These are the questions this poem takes on.

Sky Writing

By Michelle Menting

To shuffle boots in snow, link letters

with feet. Write frosted notes for the above,

readable only while high in flight.

Years ago, when I was pre-teen I wrote

on lake ice, scooted Sorels from letter

to letter, below a cloudless winter’s sky.

I wrote, HI UP THERE and HELP, THE FISH

ARE FROZEN or LAND HERE and I BOBBY

the boy with the curls. My audience

was birds – bewildered chickadees,

lost geese, late ducks lounging

out past the holidays, and jets

that circled and screeched, wrote back

in return just loops of foreign cursive – doodles

frozen fish could not answer.

But that 10-year-old girl, rural and quiet,

thought: there, finally, contact.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. This column is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2008 Michelle Menting. It appeared in “Diagram,” 2008, and appears here by permission of the author.

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